Rally for Striking Spectrum Workers Draws Crowd in NYC

As a strike by more than 1,700 union-member employees of Charter Communications' Spectrum cable and broadband operations in the New York City area passes the six-month mark, a union-backed demonstration Monday in Brooklyn and Manhattan drew thousands of the sidelined workers and their supporters, news outlets reported. The hashtag #SpectrumStrike was a top trend in New York City Monday afternoon.

The strike, largely over economic issues such as pension and health-care benefits, is with Local 3 of the IBEW, which called for the demonstration. News reports and photos on social media showed attendance by members of several other unions, though, and speakers included New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio along with other elected officials. "You attack one, you attack all of us," the IBEW quoted the Democratic governor as declaring at a rally at City Hall Park in lower Manhattan.

READ MORE: More Outages as Charter, Union Continue Stalemate

During the strike, there have been outages said to be from more 100 cuts to fiber optics, which Charter pointed out was reported again Monday by the local CBS News station in a piece that also criticized Cuomo and de Blasio for backing the strikers. (Spectrum News NY1, the local Charter-owned news outlet, did not appear to have any links to coverage of the demonstration on its home page or its Twitter feed Monday evening.) 

The ralliers first assembled on the Brooklyn side of the East River and marched across the Brooklyn Bridge. Some on Twitter said as many as 10,000 people attended the demonstration and march. 

The photo above was tweeted by Staten Island borough president James Oddo, a Republican, who also tweeted, "Hey 84 SI families impacted by #spectrumstrike you have lots of support here in Brooklyn. #nowitsafight nowitsafight."

READ MORE:New York Mayor Offers Help in Charter Strike Talks

A Spectrum spokesman released the following statement: "By keeping bargaining unit employees out of work, Local 3 is denying them an average wage increase of 22 percent — some employees up to 55 percent — and also denying them excellent health and retirement benefits, including a 401(k) savings plan with a dollar-for-dollar match up to 6 percent of eligible pay. This will have a positive, lasting impact on employees’ standard of living and allows us to grow a well-paid, highly skilled workforce for the benefit of our customers."

As MCN has reported previously, IBEW Local 3 has been without a contract since 2013. According to reports the union has said since Charter took over Time Warner Cable the company has tried to stop contributing to member pension and health plans; Charter has denied the pension claims. The union also claims that Charter wants to eliminate overtime pay on weekends and reduce the number of paid holidays, and give it greater flexibility to subcontract work normally done by bargaining unit employees.

Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.